Starring: Bruce Willis, William Sadler, Reginald VelJohnson
Director: Renny Harlin
Running Time: 124 mins
Die Hard 2 is an American film and the sequel to Die Hard. Exactly two years after his ordeal at Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve, John McClane finds himself caught up in a major incident at Dulles Airport in Washington DC, which becomes entirely taken over by a group of terrorists.
Of course, you’re working against the odds when going up against an instant classic like Die Hard, and it’s fair to say that Die Hard 2 just isn’t quite as exceptional as the original. However, it’s still a massively entertaining action movie, featuring everything you love about the first movie, from young Bruce Willis to death-defying stunt after death-defying stunt, and although it never lives up to the same thrills, you can still have huge fun throughout Die Hard 2.
And from there, we have to start, rather counter-intuitively, with the film’s final act. Reminiscent of how The Temple Of Doom plays out, Die Hard 2 starts off slowly but kicks into top gear in its second half. An action extravaganza that occasionally tops moments in the first film, the final act of this film is effectively a one hour burst of adrenaline and explosives.
That’s not to say it’s got no story, because the plot also becomes far more exciting in tandem with the explosion in action, but the real charm of the film’s final act is how relentless it is. For the last hour, there’s barely a moment where the story lets up, as we follow John McClane all around the surrounding area of the airport desperately trying to bring down a seemingly infallible terrorist plot, and as twists are thrown at you again and again, it just becomes a hugely entertaining ride to the end.
Also, because it all goes on for about an hour, the final act does feel long, but that actually works in its favour. It’s a rare example of a film that, whilst not always having completely breakneck speed, doesn’t let up with its development and ability to surprise you, meaning that you get even more time to savour every last explosion and ridiculous stunt.
If you’re looking for the same sort of excitement and entertainment value that the first Die Hard provides, then wait for this film’s final act, and you really won’t be disappointed.
Unfortunately, the same can’t really be said of its first and second acts. Whilst Die Hard managed to make an immediately engrossing story that developed into a relentless action thriller, Die Hard 2 takes a lot longer to get off the ground, and doesn’t really give you an opportunity to get so invested in the story so quickly.
Whilst the first hour is pretty enjoyable, it’s not particularly memorable or intense, and really pales in comparison to the excitement of the final act. This is largely due to the fact that John McClane, as charismatic as he is, isn’t quite as lovable as in the first Die Hard.
Bruce Willis puts in another great performance, and McClane is still a brilliant action hero, but this film takes away some of his vulnerabilities and sense of humour that made his first outing so legendary. There are still some good quips from time to time, and McClane is still very entertaining, but I couldn’t help feeling that the first and seconds acts’ somewhat slower and more sedated atmosphere was so down to the slightly blander central character.
That being said, Die Hard 2 is still a properly entertaining action movie. With almost everything you could want from a sequel to Die Hard, its relentless final act is huge fun to watch, whilst also improving on the relatively underwhelming opening acts’ story development, which is why I’m giving it a 7.8 overall.